It was during a conversation between Yasmina Jraissati and Nadim Tarazi, director of La maison du livre that the idea for “Mubtada wa Khabar” (Subject and Predicate) first arose. It was 2006, and Jraissati had been an agent specialized in Arabic literature for two years, but was struggling to find independent information on books. Where was the Publishers Weekly of Arabic literature? Where were the best-seller lists? How could the information get out?
Translators are often expected to remain invisible puppeteers, unseen by all except specialists and those good at squinting. The translator who stays in the background is praised: The reader, we’re told, wants to connect with Elias Khoury, not Humphrey Davies; Jurji Zaydan, not Samah Selim. But there are moments when translators feel they must be heard.
Emerging Arabic-Polish translator Aleksandra Lasota-Barańska is a student of Arabic language and Islamic Culture at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. She has a few publications and is now looking to publish her first translated collection, of Najwan Darwish’ poems. She answered a few questions for ArabLit about the landscape of Arabic literature in Polish.
The fierce conflict over Syria’s future, which began with great hopes in the spring of 2011, has battered the country’s publishing industry.
And it begins: It’s time to get an copy of Hani al-Rahib’s الوباء or read the excerpt and more online at And Other Stories.
The London-based publisher And Other Stories (AOS) will be running Arabic-English reading groups this fall: In Cairo, in NYC, and online. Participating readers will peruse three novels — the full novels in Arabic or excerpts in English — and talk through their opinions. Should one (or all?) of them be published in translation?
Each year, a PEN committee chooses between 8 to 10 books translated into English by UK publishers to receive grants to help promote, market and champion these titles. It’s time to apply for PEN Promotes! 2014.
What is “World Literature” when it’s not just a euphemism for “contemporary Western lit”?
Self-publishing is a growing phenomenon, with more authors forgoing traditional publishers and striking out on their own. This has allowed many new authors out into some sort of public print space. Literature-in-translation, which has found it difficult to get the attention of large Anglophone publishers, is also making use of self-publishing options.
The Darf publishing house — named for its association with Dar Fergiani — is re-launching this fall with Ahmed Fagih’s “Maps of the Soul.”
In the fourth and final part of the series on “the Arabic novel in the West,” Palestinian novelist Raba’i Madhoun asked Palestinian-British writer Selma Dabbagh, author of Out of It, for her views.
Translator-novelist Elliott Colla has suggested that there are a few core reasons why American readers pick up Arabic literature (in translation).